Harold Goodwin is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracts 2 000 participants each year and the programmes at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. He is the Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Ireland.
Harold has worked on four continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations.
Harold is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.
How did you fall in love with travelling?
There was a memorable school trip to France one year and annual holidays with my parents, in the same caravan in Wales, year after year. I remember that it rained every year: it rained a lot.
Personal travel was expensive and inaccessible until I was in my twenties, when I was teaching in adult education, and my students were hungry to discover how others lived: what made their societies tick.
Over a period of several years, I organised study tours to Albania, China, Germany, Greece and Vietnam. I was hooked on getting beyond the tourist sites and sights to “meet the people”.
What kind of traveller are you?
I was used to leading large groups and endlessly counting people on and off coaches – that all changed. I started to travel alone, working with local academics and conservationists. I directed a three-year research project on Tourism, Conservation and Sustainable Development looking for ecotourism in India, Indonesia and Zimbabwe. We didn’t find it. It was then, in the late nineties, that my passion for Africa began – the world’s most diverse continent.
What’s your travel philosophy?
I don’t have anything so grand. I have now been to 96 countries – some of them many times – from Albania to Zimbabwe. I recognise the privilege that has been. 80%+ of my travel has been for work: to teach, to speak or to work as a consultant alongside local people.
I am sceptical of Mark Twain’s assertion that travel broadens the mind, but I share his hope that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” For sure we need it in the contemporary world.
What are your top travel essentials?
Open eyes and ears, an open mind and a laptop.
Where was your most memorable trip?
This is an impossible question. There have been so many: Barcelona, Belize, Canada, India, Pakistan the Karakorum Highway to Gilgit and Hunza, South Africa, The Gambia.
All these experiences have one thing in common: travelling with a local friend and getting beyond the tourist sites and sights.
How has travelling changed your life?
I truly caught the wanderlust when I was travelling for academic research at the Durell Institute of Conservation and Ecology into the impacts of tourism on local people, habitats and species.
That research project created opportunities for consultancy and enabled me to combine my first career in adult education with work on the impacts of tourism which led to the work I have done over 20 years on Responsible Tourism.
Where are planning to travel to next?
Oxfordshire for my grandson’s third birthday, Wilshire to go fly-fishing, Scotland as soon as possible. There is currently no overseas travel in my diary. As the pandemic passes, Africa and India will be my priorities.
Best travel advice you can share?
Accept that there are places best not to revisit; remember them as they were when you first experienced the joy of the place. I remember my first visit to Pigalle and Sacre Couer, 30 years later, these parts of Paris were again fashionable with my students, but they are different more crowded places now!